Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Human Capital

24 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2016

See all articles by Carolina Canibano

Carolina Canibano

INGENIO (CSIC-UPV), Universidad Politécnica de Valencia

Jason Potts

RMIT University

Date Written: June 29, 2016


The structure and dynamics of knowledge is central to modern evolutionary economics. In the canonical evolutionary model, knowledge exists in the routines and competencies of firms, an approach optimized to study industrial dynamics. In mainstream economics however, knowledge is represented as human capital, an investment by workers in education and skills, an approach suited to the study of labour markets, education, jobs and careers. Evolutionary economics has little to say about this. We propose a new research program for evolutionary economics that develops an evolutionary theory of human capital by representing human capital as a position on a network of knowledge and economic evolution as change in that network. Our new approach connects with the economic sociology of labour markets as networks; models the evolution of jobs as the dynamic structure of that network, and models a career as a path through that network; and furnishes a new theory of structural unemployment.

Keywords: economic evolution, human capital, labour markets, jobs, careers, employment

JEL Classification: B52, D1, E23, J00, M5, O3

Suggested Citation

Canibano, Carolina and Potts, Jason, Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Human Capital (June 29, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Carolina Canibano

INGENIO (CSIC-UPV), Universidad Politécnica de Valencia ( email )

Camino de Vera s/n, Edif.8E, 4ª
Valencia, 46022

Jason Potts (Contact Author)

RMIT University ( email )

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